Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia - July 2020
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July 2020


Message from the Chair

Thank you to all the nurses and midwives across Australia who recently renewed their registration. This is a difficult time for many people and I’d like to remind you to check the NMBA's COVID-19 guidance for nurses and midwives and the Ahpra Responding to COVID-19 hub if you need further professional support. You can also access free health support specifically for nurses and midwives via Nurse & Midwife Support.

This month we have two consultations open for your feedback on the revised Recency of practice registration standard and the Nurse practitioner standards for practice. You can find out more in this newsletter.

Associate Professor Lynette Cusack, registered nurse and midwife
Chair, Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia

Associate Professor Lynette Cusack RN

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NMBA news

Have your say on recency of practice

The NMBA has opened public consultation on the proposed revised Registration standard: Recency of practice.

The proposed revised standard gives practitioners more flexibility to meet the recency of practice requirements: these can now be met over two, three or five years. This aligns the NMBA with other national boards and international regulators. The proposed revised standard incorporates changes to recency of practice requirements for recent graduates, clarity for deferred graduates and for those who have been absent from the profession for 10 or more years.

To have your say, please visit the Current consultations section of the NMBA website to read the proposed standard and the public consultation paper, before responding to the feedback questions via the online survey link. The consultation closes on Monday 31 August 2020.

Consultation open for revised Nurse practitioner standards for practice

The NMBA has proposed changes to the Nurse practitioner standards for practice. The changes are based on a systematic review of literature on the regulation and standards of nurse practitioner practice, as well as a preliminary consultation with key stakeholders.

The proposed changes include:

  • an update to key definitions including ‘advanced practice’ and ‘nurse practitioner’
  • the inclusion of ‘culturally safe and respectful practice,’ and
  • aligning the presentation and language of the standards with other NMBA standards.

More changes are outlined in the public consultation document.

To have your say, please visit the Current consultations section of the NMBA website to read the proposed Nurse practitioner standards for practice and the public consultation paper, before responding to the feedback questions via the online survey link. The consultation closes on Monday 31 August 2020.

Updates from the April and May NMBA meetings

In April, the NMBA approved a financial hardship payment plan option which was made available for nurses and midwives renewing their registration during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The NMBA also reviewed feedback from the public consultation on the Guidelines for advertising a regulated health service, which are expected to come into effect later this year.

Each month the NMBA makes decisions on approved programs of study leading to registration and endorsement. To see the up-to-date, searchable list of approved programs, please visit the Approved programs of study section of the NMBA website.

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COVID-19 response reminders

Given the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are important updates and reminders for nurses and midwives. For more support, please see the NMBA COVID-19 guidance for nurses and midwives.

Check your principal place of practice

Please check that your principal place of practice is up to date on the online Registers of Practitioners to assist in the public health response to COVID-19.

It’s important that your principal place of practice is correct for the NMBA and health departments to be able to contact nurses and midwives in specific locations to help with public health responses.

To check if your principal place of practice is up to date, visit the online public Registers of Practitioners. You can update your registration details online via practitioner services or by Contacting Ahpra.

You can also visit the COVID-19 health workforce page on the Ahpra website for details of how to get involved in your state or territory’s response to COVID-19.

Victorian nurses and midwives

If you are registered as a nurse or midwife in Victoria you can apply to join the COVID-19 Urgent Response Workforce.

The COVID-19 Urgent Response Workforce has seen over 400 staff placed throughout Victoria to meet the needs of healthcare and community facilities impacted by the pandemic. If you are a healthcare professional interested in joining you can submit your application online.

Working as a nurse or midwife in more than one workplace

If you are working in more than one workplace, you need to consider how to minimise the risk of COVID-19 transmission as you move across and within health services while continuing to provide essential services to people in your care.

Please visit your local health department website for information on how to minimise these risks.

New guidelines for exposure-prone procedures and blood-borne viruses

New NMBA guidelines support nurses and midwives to practise safely around exposure-prone procedures and blood-borne viruses.

The Guidelines for registered health practitioners and students in relation to blood-borne viruses are for nurses, midwives and students who perform exposure-prone procedures and for nurses and midwives who are treating registered health practitioners or students living with a blood-borne virus who perform exposure-prone procedures.

Most nurses and midwives will not perform exposure-prone procedures in their usual practice.

The NMBA guidelines will support nurses, midwives and students to comply with the Communicable Diseases Network Australia (CDNA) Australian national guidelines for the management of healthcare workers living with blood borne viruses and healthcare workers who perform exposure prone procedures at risk of exposure to blood borne viruses.

More information and resources are available in the NMBA news item.

Innovations in assessing and supporting internationally qualified nurses and midwives

The NMBA launched its new model of assessment for internationally qualified nurses and midwives (IQNMs) earlier this year, which includes a Self-check tool. IQNMs interested in applying for registration in Australia now have access to the Self-check tool to assess their qualifications and advise them on next steps towards applying for registration.

Most IQNMs can get an immediate outcome from the Self-check – which was built by Ahpra based on the review of over 15,000 IQNM applications for registration. Almost 20 per cent of Australia’s current nursing and midwifery workforce gained their initial qualifications overseas.

Those who proceed to applying for registration have access to an interactive orientation package, including aspects of cultural safety education, to support them working in Australia. The orientation will support IQNMs to transition to the Australian healthcare context. The cultural safety aspects of the package were developed in partnership with the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives.

You can find out more about the new assessment model on the IQNM section of the NMBA website.

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Students and graduates

New graduates – are you in the Northern Territory?

The Northern Territory Government is encouraging new graduates in the Northern Territory to consider registering their interest in the Emergency Response Workforce. If you are interested you can find more information on the Government’s Emergency Response Workforce database.

Did you know you have access to free health support?

Nursing and midwifery students have access to a free, anonymous support service that can offer professional advice about health issues.

The NMBA is aware that students, like their registered colleagues, may be experiencing stress and other health issues during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nurse & Midwife Support is a free, anonymous health support service that provides students, nurses and midwives with professional advice about their health concerns.

Students can speak to someone who understands the professions – the service employs nurses and midwives to answer your call. Nurse & Midwife Support is available 24/7 on 1800 667 877.

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Nursing and midwifery regulation at work: notification case studies

The NMBA publishes summaries of tribunal decisions about nurses and midwives as professional learning case studies. All information in these summaries has been made publicly available by the relevant tribunal before the NMBA publishes its summary.

SA nurse banned for 10 years for sexual relationship with patient

A nurse who had a relationship with a patient has been reprimanded for professional boundary violations and banned from working as a nurse or from providing any health services for 10 years following a referral by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia.

Read the news item.

Former Bacchus Marsh midwife given 10-year ban

A former Victorian midwife who was employed at Bacchus Marsh Hospital has been reprimanded and banned from practising for 10 years after a tribunal made 11 findings of professional misconduct following a referral by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia.

Read the news item.

Convicted former nurse re-sentenced on appeal

The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) has welcomed a stronger sentence for a former nurse who continued to work in aged care after her registration was suspended.

Read the news item.

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National Scheme news

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners added to the pandemic response sub-register

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners have been added to the pandemic response sub-register from 1 July 2020.

The sub-register enables Ahpra and National Boards to fast-track the return to the workforce of qualified and experienced health practitioners.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners have been recognised as an important profession to help with Australia’s COVID-19 response. These additional practitioners joined over 35,000 doctors, nurses, midwives, pharmacists, diagnostic radiographers, physiotherapists and psychologists already on the pandemic response sub-register.

The National Scheme is working closely with governments and health services to address any health workforce demand that may arise from the pandemic, including in areas where there may have been a flow-on impact.

Given the unpredictable nature of the pandemic, it is important to ensure that there is a culturally safe and ready workforce of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners to respond to any surge in healthcare demand, especially in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

For more information, read the news item.

Taking care podcast: a look behind the scenes at the National Boards

The latest episode of the Taking care podcast looks at the role of the National Boards and their responsibility in ensuring practitioners deliver safe care.

Each of the 16 registered health professions are represented by a National Board. In this episode, host Tash Miles speaks with Jen Morris, who is on the Occupational Therapy Board of Australia, and Mark Marcenko, Chair of the Medical Radiation Practice Board of Australia.

The discussion explores the important balance of community and practitioner perspectives and how boards benefit by having members with varied knowledge, skills and expertise. It also explores the work of a board, from accreditation standards, codes of conduct to what happens when it receives a notification.

Download and listen to the latest Ahpra Taking care podcast episode today. Ahpra releases a new episode every fortnight, discussing current topics and the latest issues affecting safe healthcare in Australia. You can also listen and subscribe on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and by searching ‘Taking care’ in your podcast player.

New guide to provide greater transparency in regulatory decision-making

A new guide which aims to build a better understanding of how the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (National Law) is applied in the management of notifications is now available.

The Regulatory guide explains how the National Law may be applied by Ahpra and the National Boards in the management of notifications about a practitioner’s performance, conduct or health.

We know that transparency is critical for building trust and confidence in what we do. We want practitioners, notifiers, and the public more broadly, to better understand how and why decisions are made.

To help with accessibility, a shorter executive summary of the guide is also available.

The Regulatory guide and executive summary are available on the Corporate publications page on the Ahpra website.

Ahpra welcomes review of confidentiality safeguards for notifiers

Ahpra has welcomed the independent review by the National Health Practitioner Ombudsman and Privacy Commissioner (NHPOPC) of the confidentiality safeguards in place for individuals making notifications about registered health practitioners.

The review was conducted at the request of Ahpra following the conviction of a general practitioner for the attempted murder of a pharmacist who had made a notification about his prescribing practices.

Review of confidentiality safeguards for people making notifications about health practitioners (1.12 MB,PDF)

It examined Ahpra’s current management of confidential and anonymous notifications and whether there were ways in which safeguards could be strengthened to ensure the safety of notifiers.

The review found that Ahpra’s practices for managing confidentiality and anonymity were reasonable and consistent with the practices of other regulators internationally. However, there were improvements that could be made. Ahpra has accepted all 10 recommendations and outlined a timeline to adopt these changes.

For more information, read the news item.

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Keep in touch with the NMBA

  • Visit the NMBA website for registration standards, codes, guidelines and FAQ.
  • Lodge an online enquiry form.
  • For registration enquiries, call 1300 419 495 (from within Australia) or +61 3 9275 9009 (for overseas callers).
  • Address mail correspondence to: Associate Professor Lynette Cusack RN, Chair, Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia, GPO Box 9958, Melbourne, VIC 3001.

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Page reviewed 27/11/2023